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Archive for the ‘State Department’ Category

Unlike Trump, Nixon actually won the popular vote, but the clumsy CREEP-sponsored break-in at the DNC HQ in the Watergate complex eventually caught up with him.

In case you missed it by dint of being born too late or if you memory is dusty, this Washington Post article gives a pretty thorough account of Nixon’s Saturday Might Massacre as compared to Trump’s legacy tribute last night now dubbed the Monday Night Massacre.

January 31

Revisiting the ‘Saturday Night Massacre’

In the dark days of the Watergate scandal, former president Richard Nixon pushed out two attorney generals and the special prosecutor of the Watergate investigation in what became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.” (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

On the night of Oct. 20, 1973, the United States was gripped by a constitutional crisis unlike any in its history.

President Richard Nixon, under investigation for his role in the Watergate scandal, ordered the firing of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor handling the case, rather than cooperate with him. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned in protest, after refusing to carry out the president’s orders. Nixon went on to abolish the special prosecutor’s office entirely.

The events became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.” It marked one of the most sordid moments in White House history, with the president using his political power to thwart an investigation and retaliate against his opponents in government.

“Saturday Night Massacre” re-emerged in the popular lexicon again on Monday, when President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for instructing Justice Department lawyers not to defend his order shutting U.S. borders to refugees worldwide and travelers from seven mostly Muslim countries.

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Trump Fires Acting AG Who Defied Ban

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Just hours after Acting Attorney General Sally Yates ordered the Department of Justice not to defend President Donald Trump’s refugee ban, the Trump administration ousted her from office. Yates, an Obama appointee, was tasked with serving as attorney general from Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration until his own AG nominee was approved. On Monday evening, Yates announced that the DOJ would not defend Trump’s ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries while she was in office. Hours later, the Trump administration issued a statement calling Yates “weak” and announcing Dana Boente as her replacement.

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Here is Sally Yates, American hero.

The acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, not named in the article, is Daniel Ragsdale. He remains at ICE as a deputy director, but the one-two punch stirred echoes of Nixon’s October 1973 purge.

Speaking of purges, what’s up at the State Department? There were these from last week.

Exodus Feared at State Department as Top Officials Resign

An entire senior-management team is leaving Foggy Bottom in the wake of Trump’s presidency.
Trump fires top State Department officials

Story highlights

  • The White House usually asks career officials in such positions to stay on for some time
  • The firings leave a huge management hole at the State Department

Washington (CNN)Two senior administration officials said Thursday that the Trump administration told four top State Department management officials that their services were no longer needed as part of an effort to “clean house” at Foggy Bottom.

Patrick Kennedy, who served for nine years as the undersecretary for management, Assistant Secretaries for Administration and Consular Affairs Joyce Anne Barr and Michele Bond, and Ambassador Gentry Smith, director of the Office for Foreign Missions, were sent letters by the White House that their service was no longer required, the sources told CNN.

There is this from today’s New York Times.

I know oust and purge are words we do not normally associate with our peaceful, bloodless transitions of power in this country, but it is probably unnecessary to remind you that nothing is normal – especially our new special relationship with Russia.

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A biopic about J.D. Salinger debuted at Sundance and is likely and given the writer-director’s creds is a hit in the making and is likely to spur a revival of The Catcher in the Rye this year.

MAKE AMERICA PHONY AGAIN

J.D. Salinger in the Age of Donald Trump: ‘The Rebel in the Rye’ Debuts at Sundance

Writer-director Danny Strong (Empire, The Butler, Game Change) on why his J.D. Salinger biopic The Rebel in the Rye, which just premiered at Sundance, is so timely.

Kevin Fallon

Kevin Fallon

01.28.17

“What makes you think that you have anything to say to people?”

It’s a crushing line, delivered from father to son, in writer-director Danny Strong’s new J.D. Salinger biopic The Rebel in the Rye, which chronicles how Salinger’s time fighting in World War II and ensuing PTSD played backdrop to his writing one of the last century’s most popular and important novels, and eventually played a part in the writer spending the last decades of his life a recluse in New Hampshire.

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George Orwell’s 1984 is at the top of Amazon’s bestseller list, again. It is unlikely that this is because every English teacher in America is assigning it as required reading this semester. Many probably are, and if I were back in my English teaching days, I probably would. In fact I probably would add Animal Farm, which I did use with freshman English classes once upon a time.  Two articles published today cite both books as worthy of a second read.  It may be the year of the rooster, but the pigs are in control.

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast

Prescient

How George Orwell Predicted Donald Trump

The White House’s embrace of ‘alternative facts’ evokes the managed truth Orwell described in 1984 and Animal Farm—a perfect example of the Big Lie backed by Big Power.

John Sutherland

01.28.17

Oh Orwell, thou shouldst be living at this hour. In fact, every hour since that dark night in January 1950 when you died, alone, in a hospital. Perhaps, web paranoia speculates, your truth-telling got too dangerous for the powers that be and you were terminated with extreme prejudice. It makes a crazy kind of sense.

The recent furor about “alternative facts,” in a culture polluting its thought processes with post-truth license and fake news, suggests that George Orwell’s dire predictions about double-think and thought-crime are with us—albeit 33 years late.

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In our Orwellian reality, reach for ‘Animal Farm’ with your ‘1984’

After Trump took office, on Saturday he sent his press secretary out to berate and lie to the press. On Sunday, his senior adviser called the lies “alternative facts.” The Washington Post’s media columnist Margaret Sullivan declared we’ve gone “full Orwell.”

Sales of Orwell’s anti-totalitarian classic “1984” skyrocketed after Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway tried to justify the government’s over-exaggerated inaugural turnout claim as ” alternative facts.”

But Stanford University literature professor Alex Woloch, who penned ” Or Orwell: Writing and Democratic Socialism,” says another book by the late British author might provide better insight for what’s happening to America today: “Animal Farm.”

“In ‘1984,’ however we’ve gotten into that situation has already occurred,” Woloch says. “But in ‘Animal Farm,’ [Orwell is] really tracing that sense of a ‘slippery slope.’”

Woloch is referring to the “slippery slope” scholars on authoritarian regimes call the transition from democracy to totalitarianism.

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Meanwhile, the benevolent dictator wannabe’s executive order banning immigrants from seven countries has, today, left hundreds stranded in no man’s land. He sat with ABC’s David Muir, this week,  and in the kindliest of tones described how Christian immigrants would be given priority standing.

Your first reaction might be that this is unAmerican.  That is correct. But it also is untrue.

VIENNA (AP) — Austria has shut its door to about 300 non-Muslim Iranians hoping to use the country as a way station before establishing new homes in the United States, The Associated Press has learned. The action is an early ripple effect of U.S. President Donald Trump’s effort to clamp down on refugee admissions.

Under a 27-year-old program originally approved by Congress to help Jews in the former Soviet Union, Austria had been serving until recently as a conduit for Iranian Jews, Christians and Baha’i, who were at risk in their home country and eligible to resettle in the United States. Iran has banned the Baha’i religion, which was founded in 1844 by a Persian nobleman considered a prophet by followers.

U.S. officials had been interviewing the candidates in Austria because they cannot do so in Iran. But the United States suspended the so-called “Iranian Lautenberg Program” in recent days, according to Austrian officials, who in turn stopped Iranians from reaching their territory. It’s unclear when the program might restart.

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Not only are these folks marooned, green card holders are included in the ban.

People holding so-called green cards, making them legal permanent U.S. residents, are included in President Donald Trump’s executive action temporarily barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, a Department of Homeland security spokeswoman said on Saturday.

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So it is not English teachers and their students alone who likely are boning up on their Orwellian glossaries. Newspeak is with us. As for how this particular transition works, Animal Farm is a great source. You might even want to pair it up with William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. My long-ago ninth graders were adept at finding parallels in the politics of subjugation.

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Secretary Kerry released the 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report today.  Coinciding with the release came this story.

‘Sea Slaves’: Forced Labor for Cheap Fish

By IAN URBINA
  • Cambodian migrants hauled in the nets on a fishing boat in the South China Sea. A labor shortage in the Thai fishing industry is primarily filled by using migrants, mostly from Cambodia and Myanmar.
  • The living quarters on the fishing boats are typically cramped and the men sleep for short periods between hours of work.
  • San Oo, 35, was trafficked into Thailand from Myanmar and sold to a fishing boat. He was forced to work at sea for two and a half years.
  • Migrant workers unloaded barrels of fish at the docks in Songkhla. "Motherships" bring the catch to shore so that the trawlers can stay at sea.The crew on the Thai fishing boat included two dozen Cambodian boys, some as young as 15.

SONGKHLA, Thailand — Lang Long’s ordeal began in the back of a truck. After watching his younger siblings go hungry because their family’s rice patch in Cambodia could not provide for everyone, he accepted a trafficker’s offer to travel across the Thai border for a construction job.It was his chance to start over. But when he arrived, Mr. Long was kept for days by armed men in a room near the port at Samut Prakan, more than a dozen miles southeast of Bangkok. He was then herded with six other migrants up a gangway onto a shoddy wooden ship. It was the start of three brutal years in captivity at sea.

“I cried,” said Mr. Long, 30, recounting how he was resold twice between fishing boats. After repeated escape attempts, one captain shackled him by the neck whenever other boats neared.

Mr. Long’s crews trawled primarily for forage fish, which are small and cheaply priced. Much of this catch comes from the waters off Thailand, where Mr. Long was held, and is sold to the United States, typically for canned cat and dog food or feed for poultry, pigs and farm-raised fish that Americans consume.

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The political division at the New York Times has come under scrutiny and criticism in the past several days for faulty and inaccurate reporting about disagreement between the intelligence community and the State Department on classification guidelines.  This particular story, from a different division, seems pretty well documented.

We are accustomed to stories of women, especially young women and girls, being sold or kidnapped and held in sex trade bondage, but we hear precious little about other forms of modern human trafficking and slavery.

Clearly we need to feed our pets and livestock.  We do not need to do so on the backs of unpaid hostages in an unregulated industry.  It remains a mystery to me why some (men), when Hillary Clinton raised this banner,  called it a “soft” issue.  There is nothing soft about slavery.

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11.09.14

Bringing El Salvador Nun Killers to Justice

More than 30 years later, justice closes in on the Salvadorans behind the rape and murder of American nuns.

In December 1980, members of the National Guard of El Salvador abducted, sexually assaulted and executed four American churchwomen.

At the time, El Salvador, Nicaragua and the rest of Central America were on the front burner of American foreign policy much in the way that Iraq, Syria and the Middle East are today. The nun killing was one of those acts of horror that may galvanize the American public at the same times it exposes the disarray of American policy.

In that sense it is analogous to the beheadings of Americans and Britons and hundreds of Iraqis and Syrians by the so-called Islamic State and the bombing and gassing of much larger numbers by the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad.

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U.S. Forming ‘Coordination Cell’ in Nigeria to Find Abducted Girls

… just hours before Kerry spoke on Tuesday, a report was released that eight more girls have been kidnapped from a village near one of the Islamists’ strongholds in northeastern Nigeria overnight, according to police and residents. The girls were aged 12 to 15.

Lazarus Musa, a resident of the village of Warabe, told Reuters that armed men had opened fire during the raid.

“They were many, and all of them carried guns. They came in two vehicles painted in army color. They started shooting in our village,” Musa said by telephone from the village in the hilly Gwoza area, Boko Haram’s main base.

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I just watched E.J. Dionne with Lawrence O’Donnell and know why the Clintons love him. His education, and it was not even Jesuit, as I suspected.  It was Benedictine.   Imagine that!  The guy not only knows logic, he knows how to apply it in daily life.

The fault, in the faux comparison between the Watergate investigation and the Benghazi  “investigation”   was the target of Dionne’s laser-beam tonight. Using few words, E.J. managed to illustrate why there can be no comparison between the real scandal of the Watergate cover-up and the in-construction of a Benghazigate cover-up.

Eminence-grise that he is, E.J. hearkened back to a bi-partisan effort to find facts via hearings.  Having gathered the evidence,  the special committee on Watergate  arrived at a conclusion of  a  cover-up conspiracy.  E.J. then  contrasted the partisan effort of Darryl Issa, Jason Chaffetz, & Co. on Benghazi  that, having decided on a conclusion of a cover-up,  now attempts,  by way of cherry-picked hearings, to construct a web of evidence.

Thomas Pickering, co-chair of the Accountability Review Board appointed by then Secretary of State Clinton, and other officials from the State Department and the Department of Defense,  volunteered to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today to balance the information and testimony offered by the “Whistleblowers.”   Those offers were declined.

Clearly there is an agenda here, and E.J. spotlighted it like a professor with a laser light.  The two sets of hearings work from two opposing constructs.

The Watergate hearings, having listened to a wide variety of  testimonies arrived at a specific proposition: there was a cover-up.   Deduction, my dear Watson.

The Darryl Issa war on Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is an inductive effort.  Let’s find enough testimony to point to a cover-up conspiracy – just in case she runs.  Find evidence for this proposition.

N.B. This is not pure induction.  It is, having decided on a conclusion, cherry-picking the evidence, not a true investigation.  If Issa really wanted a pure conclusion, he would have invited all who were willing to testify, including Ambassador Pickering.

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I will let the pictures speak for themselves. All were identically captioned, and you only need to read that caption once.

Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 08: Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy prepares to speak during a briefing ‘concerning Muslim Brotherhood influence inside and aimed at the Obama administration and their impact on U.S. policy’ at the National Press Club August 8, 2012 in Washington, DC. Claiming that U.S. government policy is being ‘radically harmonized’ with the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, McCarthy also pointed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin as an agent for that agenda.


I remember Joe McCarthy. I was very little and would come home from school to find my mom watching the Army-McCarthy Hearings on TV (long before C-Span). He was a frightening and dangerous presence in government. He was also dead wrong. So is this McCarthy.

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